Number One Rule: Everyone has fun in the gym.
The MOST important thing: People!
If the play is too aggressive or unfair, not everyone is having fun. Adjust teams, rules, or supplies to create an environment where everyone feels safe and is having fun. If individuals are getting hurt, the game is no longer safe or fun. Make the focus on the people, not the score or technique. Shout out compliments. Encourage good sportsmanship. Keep them engaged.
Fair doesn’t mean equal
If you are playing a game with teams, it is important to adjust the teams once or twice to balance out skill levels. If one team is always winning, both teams can easily disengage for different reasons: one team no longer feels challenged and the other team feel overwhelmed. All of us who watch sports know that a close game is always more fun, because our Number One Rule is…
The tagger/thrower is ALWAYS right
This rule might seem more controversial, but it makes being a referee for a large group much easier. When playing tagging or ball throwing games, getting another person out is number one complaint and cause for arguments. State clearly that if you tag someone or get them out with a ball, the person who got out can not argue this. A tag does not have to be a forceful shove or felt, as hair and clothing often hide the sensation of being tagged. Explain clearly at the beginning of the game that this rule/power comes with great responsibility. Make is clear that if someone is caught lying amount getting someone down that they will be sitting out for a clearly specified amount of time.
Bring a boombox with music to add to the fun factor of the gym. This can also be a great way to signal a FREEZE. Have a variety of music: oldies, multicultural, popular, etc.
If rules need to be clarified, teams need to be readjusted, someone is injured, gym time is done, or other reasons why you need the group’s attention, call FREEZE. This means that ALL play stops immediately, everyone sits down facing the leader, voices are off, ears are ready to listen and all equipment is out of their hands. Use a whistle, stop the music, or use a big voice…whatever you use, be consistent.